Wicispell is foreseted rǽd mid þǽm ende, þæt man samod meldaþ and forecierfeþ spell on eallum forþsetennessum mid efenum dóme. Þéos rǽd tówríteþ þá forþsetennesse endu, and outlines fíf basic requirements for the project. Gif héo síe efenstáðolod, béoþ þǽr Wicispellgemǽnscipas on manigum geþéodum. The precise implementation of the Wikinews requirements is left up to these individual communities.
In order to assist them, we seek to provide a set of policy ideas here on Meta that the individual Wikinews communities can use as the basis for local policy development. These implementation ideas are presently collected at Wikinews/Thinktank.
On Wikinews/Vote céosaþ se Wicimediangemǽnscipe hwæðer wé willaþ onginnan Wicispell æfter þǽm níedum þe sind gemearcoda in þissum cwide. Se cyre biþ open on Winterfylleðe 22, 2004, 20:00 UTC. Oþ þá sceoldon þá Wicispell-besibban trametas béon gewendede on swá fela geþéodu swá mihtiglicu.
On æfterran Géolan 15, 2001, gaderung léoda ongunnon dyrstige oferfundennesse: Híe léton þá hálan worulde, þæt héo sciepþ wísdómbóc in eallum geþéodum, fréolíce oftrǽdu tó ǽghwǽm on þǽm plánetan, tó wídan ealdre. In þǽm folgiendan mónþum and géarum, næs hit was áne searu þe macode þisne swefn tó áweosunge, ac éac an incredibly dedicated community of volunteers who wrote articles and formulated the policies and guidelines for the project. Híe swá dydon þurh an open, evolutionary process, in a belief in the possibility of consensus, in a desire for the betterment of the human condition, and in love of the human spirit.
The idea behind the Wikinews project is no less daring. We seek to create a free source of news, where every human being is invited to contribute reports about events large and small, either from direct experience, or summarized from elsewhere. Wikinews is founded on the idea that we want to create something new, rather than destroy something old. It is founded on the belief that we can, together, build a great and unique resource which will enrich the media landscape.
Wikinews will already be useful even if we start out by having relatively few original reports - because it will provide free, neutral, aggregated summaries of the news from elsewhere. It will already be useful even if the subject range which we cover will initially be full of gaps - because in these subject areas, we will already benefit from the collaborative wiki model. It can grow to become more useful every day.
While Wikinews aims to be a useful resource of its own, it will also provide an alternative to proprietary news agencies like the Associated Press or Reuters; that is, it will allow independent media outfits to get a high quality feed of news free of charge to complement their own reporting. Thanks to copyleft, anyone can create their own free news source - even a non-neutral one - on the basis of our work.
While we are faced with many new challenges, Wikinews will adopt the key principles which have made Wikipedia and the other Wikimedia websites what they are today: neutrality, free content, and an open decision making process.
We seek to promote the idea of the citizen journalist, because we believe that everyone can make a useful contribution to painting the big picture of what is happening in the world around us. The time has come to create a free news source, by the people and for the people. We invite you to join us in this effort which has the potential to change the world forever.
The internationality of the Wikimedia foundation is one of our biggest strengths, and the Wikinews projects will build on this strength right from the start. Úser forme níed is þæt Wicispell biþ swá Wicipǽdia gestáðolod, mid eardléodmearce for ǽghwilcre Wicispellrǽde:
and swá forþ. Wicispell rǽd on geþéode wierþ ongunnen under twám éðlum: a) þæt þæt geþéode is gefangen swá án þǽre Wicimediancwides geþéoda, b) þæt þǽr is húru án mann sé þe wille wyrcan mid þǽre geþéodes fadunge.
A news article is a historical document. It is something which people exepect to be able to cite without substantial changes to its content, especially after the event is no longer current. News articles can also be of immense political significance. They can lead to violence against the innocent, or to passivity in the face of a pending threat. This means that, at the time of publication, a news article must be solidly fact-checked and as objective as possible. Anyone should be able to take a published Wikinews article, print it out and distribute it - at any time.
We therefore formulate as the second requirement for Wikinews that an article must undergo at least four stages:
- Article development, in which a community of volunteers works on the text and media
- Final review, in which the accuracy, neutrality, copyright status, legality and comprehensiveness of the article are verified
- Article publication, in which the content is prominently linked and officially labeled as a published Wikinews article. Corrections and updates can still be made for a limited time if they are clearly pointed out alongside the article.
- Archival, in which the article is permanently frozen, for the purpose of citation. Corrections and updates can still be linked to, but the article text itself may not be changed.
In order to implement our vision of not just a news summary service, but a source of original reporting, we formulate as our third requirement for Wikinews that there will be at least two types of reports:
- summaries from external sources
- reports by Wikinews reporters (based on first-hand experiences or on interviews and research)
In this context, we also establish one key principle that any Wikinews implementation must follow: to make available to the reader all the knowledge which we ourselves have, that is, to fully cite our sources, with the exception of sources which are anonymized for their protection.
Ensuring accuracy and legalityEdit
The inclusion of original reports greatly expands the range of Wikimedia content for which the Wikimedia Foundation is potentially liable. The importance of news in informing public opinion also places on us an additional burden to, from the start, do our best to ensure the absolute accuracy of the content we publish.
Our fourth requirement for Wikinews is therefore that there must be processes in place to ensure that original reports are accurate and legal in the country of publication (and possibly the country of the primary readership, but this is left for individual Wikinews communities to decide in agreement with the Wikimedia Foundation). We cannot rely on the wiki process to improve articles after they are published, because, unlike an encyclopedia article, a news article has a limited lifetime: it receives very high exposure for a very brief period of time. Articles must be accurate and legal at the time of publication.
The thinktank lists some general ideas on how to maintain openness for original reports while guaranteeing that we can actually verify the information which is inserted. None of these ideas are, however, a requirement for the Wikinews proposal as presented here - the precise methods by which the requirement of accuracy and legality is satisfied will be left up to the individual Wikinews projects to implement.
Wikinews will adopt the neutral point of view policy which has been key behind the success of Wikipedia. All opinions and beliefs have to be attributed to their adherents, all factual claims have to be sourced. Wikinews will not engage in political advocacy; unlike some newspapers, it will not endorse political candidates, for example. An article which is not neutral at the time of final review should either be fixed or not be published.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)Edit
How will you avoid duplication of effort with Wikipedia?
Wikinews articles provide very detailed information about specific events ("Allende toppled: Pinochet new ruler"). Wikipedia articles provide condensed information about a series of events (w:History of Chile, w:Augusto Pinochet, etc.). Also, Wikinews allows original research, while Wikipedia does not (Wikinews may eventually become reliable enough to be cited as a source on Wikipedia).
Let's take as a specific example the article w:Hurricane Charley on the English Wikipedia. In Wikinews, we would not just publish a brief timeline as in Wikipedia, but a detailed article about
- what the forecast of the hurricane path and strength for the next day is
- according to different experts
- what preparations are being made by the local authorities (evacuations etc.)
- what the situation is like for the people living in the storm area (live wiki-report)
Where Wikipedia would just summarize something like this report in one sentence, Wikinews might well reproduce (if in the public domain) the whole thing in order to give people as much useful "live" information as possible.
So the two projects are very different, and in many cases, the work of summarizing the Wikinews article in Wikipedia will not be much different from the work of summarizing other sources like CNN or MSNBC.
Nevertheless, Wikinews would also benefit from good article abstracts in addition to the full articles; so, for example, you could have a Wikinews article about the release of a new version of Microsoft Windows, and the introduction would briefly summarize what the main changes are, while the main text would go into much more detail.
It makes sense to aim for cross-wiki transclusion of this content: Wikinews could provide the abstracts, and Wikipedia could dynamically transclude them (like template pages) on a page like w:current events.
Overlap with Wikipedia background articles can be avoided by simply prominently linking to them in the Wikinews article and not going into too much detail about the history of an event.
What will the scope of the Wikinews project be?
This is left up to the individual Wikinews communities to decide (in the spirit of Wikipedia:What Wikipedia is not, but in general, we will want to discourage things which are not verifiable or not significant. Nevertheless, Wikinews should grow into a very broad news source that even covers relatively minor events in very specific fields ("Linux kernel 2.6.6 released, introduces bugfix"). The project will have to develop guidelines and processes by which events of major and minor significance can be distinguished, i.e. be given different prominence.
Hú cann ic ǽfre tréowian, hwæt ic in wicispelle rǽde?
Our goal is that you can trust us more than you can trust other media, because we tell you exactly what we know and with what level of certainty we know it. In practice this means that factual information will always be sourced, even if it is to an anonymous source who has contacted a Wikinews reporter.
Meldung is héahweorðe - hú céapaþ man for farcéapas, asf.?
Wikinews will depend on volunteers, at least initially. In the long term, it may be desirable to have a Wikinews research fund within the Wikimedia budget, so that Wikinews reporters can apply for funding for expensive research. Nevertheless, given that the Wikimedia community is very international, any country that has some level of Internet coverage is likely to have some Wikinews reporters sooner or later.
What processes will be in place for when a Wikinews user knowingly publishes POV or factualy incorrect information?
Some ideas for dealing with this are outlined on the Wikinews/Thinktank page. In the general, we will want to exclude such users from the Wikinews community as we seek to exclude POV-pushers and vandals from the other Wikimedia communities.